Set in an Alternate Universe.

Finally, a story written the way I normally write.

I tried to imagine Luxord and Aqua getting along.
After mentioning to a friend that I can see him testing her patience.

In case you are wondering..
Is this a romantic pairing? I am not so sure...
It could be, maybe...
I may have hinted at something. You decide.

DISCLAIMER [I do not own Kingdom Hearts] DISCLAIMER


RESHUFFLED

Looks like I win.


As a waiter passed carrying a tray laden with drinks, Aqua picked up a glass of…well, she isn't quite sure. She held the glass daintily and pressed the rim to her lips without really drinking. She surveyed her surroundings and suppressed a sigh. The sounds from this hastily set up casino were beginning to irritate her, and the sights were not any better. She was neutral to gambling and games, but prolonged exposure to people who cared only about the stakes and winning was grating on her patience. She had enough of that at home, with her father.

She cursed the day she turned eighteen – barely a week ago – and wished she could go back to being just a girl. But, no, she was a young lady now, and according to her father that meant she was up for grabs. Literally. She had lost count of the many men who thought that just because they were wealthy and famous she would want them to touch her. She shuddered.

"Miss Aqua, your father has been asking for you," a young man said as he hurriedly walked up to her.

She smiled a little. At least her efforts at hiding seemed slightly effective. Slightly. "No doubt to introduce me to another one of his friends." She tried to keep the frustration out of her voice; the servant only does what he is told, and he should not be placed on the receiving end of her anger. "Please tell him I stepped out for a bit of fresh air. I will come see him in a few minutes."

"He will not be happy about that, Miss."

"I know," she said. "But please…"

The servant nodded after a brief pause, and left. Aqua walked towards the glass doors that led out to the balconies. She could at least put some truth into what she told the servant. She quietly slipped out of the hall and, closing the door behind her, reveled in the sudden silence. The sounds that irritated her so were muffled now and she found that her mind felt so much clearer.

She walked towards the balustrade and set her drink down on the railing. Looking up at the moon, which was full this evening, she wondered for the umpteenth time what life would be like had she been born into a different family. Her superficial parents and their pretentious ways were becoming more difficult to deal with by the day. And she was sure they were less than pleased with how she turned out, despite their efforts at turning her into – she shuddered again – one of them.

Well, they will eventually have their way. Despite herself and her issues with them, she loves them. They were her parents. Ultimately, she knows she would do what she can to make them happy. In the end, she will marry a wealthy man with their approval, have his snobbish children whom she will love anyway, spend her days locked up in too-large a manor, and her nights attending balls and parties against her will. She will live the rest of her life latched onto the arm of her pompous husband like the trophy that she should be. That is what it meant to be born unbelievably beautiful and to be the heiress to a mountain of gold; she is a prize to be won.

Aqua ran her finger along the rim of her glass, praying inwardly for a few more years of freedom, a few more breaths of fresh air…

Her thoughts were broken, though, when a voice sounded behind her. "I was promised an introduction to a lovely young lady, but I did not think that I would have to come looking for her."

She spun around and found herself in the presence of a stranger. He held his hand out for hers. "You must be Aqua. Your father speaks very highly of you."

She extended her hand out to him and he lightly pressed a kiss to her fingers. "I am certain he does," she said. "And to whom do I owe this pleasure?"

"My name can wait," he replied, gently releasing her hand.

"Is that fair? You already know mine, but refuse to tell me yours."

"Ah, but I did not learn of your name from you. To be fair, you must find some other means to learn my name as well."

Aqua found herself smiling. 'Will you at least present me an opportunity?"

"Certainly," he said, and he withdrew a deck of cards from his pocket. "You are in the presence of a gambler. And so, I offer you a game, and the chance to win my name."

"I see, but what do you stand to gain, should you win?"

He nodded towards the drink she had set aside. "That will do."

She laughed. "Then I have absolutely nothing to lose."

He led her towards the table and chairs that were set to one side of the balcony and they took a seat. "What game would you like?"

"A single hand of blackjack," she answered. "Quick, simple."

He smirked at her and offered the deck. "Wouldn't you want to examine the cards first, to ascertain that I have no plans to cheat you?"

"Cheat me?" she said, smiling. "I doubt you would go to such measures simply for a glass of…that." She pointed with the slightest hint of disgust towards the glass that was settled on the table between them. His prize.

He was clearly amused as he began to shuffle the deck. "But there is the chance that I would go to such measures to keep my name a secret."

"You did say you were expecting an introduction; an exchange of names," she said. "By that, I take it, you were quite aware that I would come to know your name if you came here, and still here you are. I assume it isn't that important of a secret, then."

"Perhaps," he said and he set one card face-down in front of her, and one in front of himself. Then he set face-up cards for each of them. His was the Ace of Hearts; hers was the Jack of Spades. "Let's begin."

Aqua lifted the corner of her face-down card, her expression unreadable, and she looked to him. He, too, had checked his card and was smiling.

"Hit me," she said softly.

"I'll stand," he said, as he dealt her another card.

Then satisfied with her hand, she leaned back and smiled at him.

"You seem confident," he said.

"I have enough grounds to be," she answered.

"Let's see, then."

He revealed his cards first; the Ace of Hearts and the Nine of Diamonds, his total coming to 20.

Smirking, Aqua showed him her hand. "Looks like I win," she murmured, revealing that her total was 21, with a Jack of Spades, a Nine of Spades and the Two of Hearts.

"It seems luck favors the lady tonight," he sighed.

"Now your name, Gambler," she said.

"Luxord," he replied.

Aqua recognized his name, and it shone in her eyes. She has heard of him and his quickly growing business ventures. His face, though, had been a mystery until tonight as he did not care for public recognition. His underlings often dealt with the media, and he kept mostly to himself. She knew her father had tried many times to invite him to the many events he has littered throughout the year, but this man, Luxord, always declined.

"I was under the impression that you make yourself scarce at events like this," she said.

"I was given an offer simply too tempting to refuse," he replied. "Like I said, I was promised an introduction to a lovely young lady."

She pushed the drink towards him. "I would like the answer to a question, for this."

"Ask then," he said, taking the glass by its stem.

"Is it so important that you and I meet?"

He lifted the glass to his lips, and Aqua noted that he drank from the same point on the rim where she had pressed her own lips earlier. The mark of her light pink lipstick was clearly visible on the glass. He looked at her thoughtfully, before answering,

"Your father offered me, shall we say, a cheat," he said, "the chance to see his trump card. And, I must say, a hand with you in it would be terribly difficult to beat."

Aqua frowned. She was well aware of how her father intends to use her, but to hear the same idea from someone else… "So that is what I am to you, as well? A game piece, a pawn?"

"You are looking at this the wrong way," Luxord replied as he set down the now-empty glass. "You are the most powerful card in play. Far from being a pawn; if you so choose, you can control the game."

Aqua was about to make a retort, when the glass doors opened. The same servant from earlier approached her. "Pardon me, Miss, Sir, but my Lord requests your presence."

"Demands it, more like," Aqua said, standing up from her seat.

Luxord, gathering the cards and placing them into his pocket, rose as well. He offered his arm to Aqua and, after a very brief hesitation, she placed her own arm around his. His words had set the gears of her mind in hastened motion.

"I would like to thank you, Aqua," he said as they walked, "for the entertainment."

"I must thank you as well," she replied. "I found our conversation to be rather enlightening."

He smiled. "Have I somehow turned the tables for you?"

"Perhaps," she said. "But, whether I have the upper hand or not, I am still new at this game." She looked up at him, smiling. "Will you teach me?"

Luxord smirked at the exquisite young lady beside him. The night was turning out rather beautifully, better than he had dared to expect. With her as a player, the game will be so much more interesting. And if he plays his own cards right, she would make an incredible partner. His partner.

"It would be my pleasure," he answered her, knowing that with his words the deck is reshuffled. And a new game is set to begin.


END

Thank You

~Alacquiene~